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article imageFDA ends lifetime ban on gay men donating blood

By Michael Thomas     Dec 21, 2015 in Health
The FDA has officially ended its lifetime ban on gay men donating blood. However, men who want to donate will have to abstain from sex with another man for a year.
The 32-year-old ban, Mashable reports, was lifted Monday. Stephen Ostroff, M.D., the FDA's acting commissioner, released a statement saying the one-year-abstinence requirement was "backed by sound science."
As Consumerist explains, the FDA instated the ban in the 1980s, which saw a rise in HIV diagnoses. The FDA claims the ban has protected the country's blood supply, which dropped the rate of HIV through blood transfusion to one in 1.47 million from one in 2,500.
However, medical groups and gay activists say the ban is discriminatory and cannot be supported based on modern testing methods.
"While many gay and bisexual men will be eligible to donate their blood and help save lives under this 12 month deferral, countless more will continue to be banned solely on the basis of their sexual orientation and without medical or scientific reasoning," Jay Franzone, director of communications for the National Gay Blood Drive, told Mashable.
Some on Twitter voiced their displeasure at the one-year ban:
The one-year abstinence period is the same as that in the UK and Australia. In Canada, this period is five years.
Last year, the FDA announced it would be lifting the total ban, citing more recent scientific evidence. Peter Marks, the FDA's deputy director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said the agency looked at several options before deciding on the one-year period. The FDA will continue to conduct research and revise its policies if necessary.
Last year, the FIveThirtyEight calculated a lifting of the ban would allow more than 4 million American men to donate blood.
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